Klein v. Pyrodyne Corp.

117 Wash. 2d 1, 810 P.2d 917 (1991)



No part of a statute should be deemed inoperative or superfluous unless it is the result of obvious mistake or error. This requires that every word, clause, and sentence of a statute be given effect, if possible.


Fireworks discharged by defendant pyrotechnic company exploded near a crowd and injured plaintiff onlookers. The discharge of fireworks was an abnormally dangerous activity justifying imposition of strict liability: that is, it was an activity that is not of common usage and that presents an high risk of serious bodily injury or property damage. Fairness weighed in favor of requiring the pyrotechnicians who present the displays to bear the loss, rather than the unfortunate spectators who suffer the injuries. 


Is any form of injury caused by Pyrodyne’s public fireworks display their liability?




The fireworks set off in public are considered to be abnormally dangerous and create a high risk for putting the crowd in danger. The public policy is a reinforcement of the conclusion. Public fireworks display have insurances to cover any damage or negligence of the operator. The court found that the licensing and bonding requirements of Wash. Rev. Code § 70.77.285 imposed statutory strict liability, as it was necessary to interpret the statute as mandating coverage of all damages caused by fireworks displays, regardless of whether those damages were caused by negligence of the pyrotechnicians. Intervening acts of third persons could only relieve the defendant from strict liability for abnormally dangerous activities if their acts were unforeseeable in relation to the extraordinary risk created by the activity.

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